Thursday, February 26, 2009


Tangerines are good.

I don't know if I ever mentioned that we have a tangerine tree.  In terms of childhood memories, it stands equal with apricots to me.  But when it comes to flavor, it takes a slight backseat.  But in January, apricot isn't around, so it's all about the tangerine.

Getting the first ripe tangerine in late December/early January is pretty great.  It is a wonderful feature that Citrus is  ripe in the dead of winter (So. Cal. edition ~50-60 F).   Michael Ruhlmann is right, citrus is a great example of the benefits of seasonal produce shopping.

We are blessed with a mature tangerine tree, so no waiting around here.  When the fruit is ready, time to dive in.  Sadly this variety is a bit "seedy", but I can't complain, because the flavor is spectacular.

Also, sadly, two of my kids are allergic to citrus.  They get a rash on there face and *other problems*.  so sad.

Apricots - tipping point

I love apricots

I have blogged on this before.  But I am posting about the blooming of the apricots this year because this is the third blooming that I have observed with this tree.  The first was days after I planted it and I harvested 3 apricots.  Last year, there were more, though my impatience prevented me from eating many (any?) truly, fully ripe apricots, as I only got ~10 apricots.  This year there will be probably a couple/few dozen.

It is whelming at times to observe time pass.  2 years ago, I thought it would be so long until I had fruit from the itty, bitty tree.  Now it still seems as though I planted the tree a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

food culture

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="making ricotta"]making ricotta[/caption]

I am in love with areas in which a high value on excellent food is ingrained in the culture.  In my limited exposure, the only places in America that typically come to mind are Berkeley/Bay Area, CA & Portland, OR as well as a general sense about various locations around the south that center around barbeque, also Colorado for beer.  Brooklyn was definitely not on my mental map.

But this article in NY Times definitely indicate that this is what's going on.  Makes me want to drop everything and go visit.  But it intensifies  my question, "what makes an area prone to developing de novo, a food culture?"  Berkeley, Portland & Brooklyn seem to be good examples of places that did not start out with a general, and intense interest in all things artisan food, but they have developed them.  What leads to that?

Thinking of those three cities, I think that some common criteria emerge:

1. nearness to local small-scale agriculture. (LA is out of the running in many ways here)

2. nearness to medium-large urban centers which provide the customers willing to spend $$.  Perhaps it also provides a certain "creative class" of individuals likely to be caught up in the ideas and romance surrounding the pursuit of excellence in food.

3. accessibility of cheap living and working spaces allowing true believers in food to experiment on a small scale.(not as true of Berkeley, perhaps, now as it was when foodie movement was founded there)

4.  Others?  I am open to suggestions here.

Lastly, are there steps that a city/region can take to foster & incubate such a culture.  Pasadena, I am coming after you!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Weekend Gardening Update 23Feb2009

I was busy this weekends in many ways.  FYG Child #2 turned 5 years old and had a high tea with her best friend, her big sister and her mom.  The boy and I scooted out and watched the Tour de California! We got to see Lance Armstrong and some really exciting racing around Pasadena's Rose Bowl.

As for gardening, I was able to harvest a big fistful of turnips, which I had planned on growing primarily for their greens.  I did use them once, and I have largely cracked the code on making Cracker-Barrel-good turnip greens, but time got away from me and I didn't harvest them like I should and now I have a patch of pretty mature turnips.  Here they are with some carrots that I harvested as well:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

in defense of in defense of food

So the upshot of  "in defense of food" is that nutrients are good for us, but we don't get much benefit from them when we divorce them from their original context, i.e. food.  Lo and behold, a compilation of studies, just reported in the NY Times comes to precisely the same conclusion:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

hopeful signs from Dept. of Agriculture

No, this isn't in the front of my yard, but it is an issue that affects millions of kids.

the school lunch program.

My best understanding is that, basically, it is a dumping ground for all the unhealthy commodities that our current agri-business model of farming produces, and schools make "food" out of it. It is pretty pathetic.

Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture, has been taken as a pretty dismaying sign about what direction food/agriculture policy is going to take. This interview makes me more hopeful

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Michael Pollan - Again

Yeah, so I am a Pollan-phile, and I will have more to say about him, I am sure, particularly about his relatively new book, "In Defense of Food", soon, but if you haven't gotten to read or hear much from him, I present this interview with Bill Moyer.  It gets to a lot of his issues and thinking.  It can also be downloaded as a podcast, so you can listen at your leisure:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Good Start

One of my goals as a parent is to continue the appreciation for basic cooking skills that I grew up with. Or more precisely, an expectation that the food I eat comes from a process called cooking, which more often than not, I carry out. With that in mind this picture of the FYG progeny #2, caught in a spontaneous, but intense, state of play-cooking is heart warming.